Four-part series from PR Newswire covers important fact-checking basics

NEW YORK CITY — For editors seeking to improve fact-checking procedures, the PR Newswire for Journalists has posted a four-part series – Faster Fact Checking for Journalists, a compilation of online resources and best practices, says media relations manager Amanda Hicken. The coverage has four sections:

Part I: Tools for Journalists Reporting Breaking News

Part II: Making Sense of Social Media

Part III: Crisis and Public Safety Reporting

Part IV: Verification Best Practices

In total, the series describes 12 services and sites. Part I attracted the most interest, Hicken says. In her introduction to this part, she notes the impact of today’s 24/7 news cycle:

“On the one hand, we now have the ability to track news as it happens, often from citizen journalists who are tweeting and recording on the scene. However, that also adds pressure on the media to report news more quickly than before. As we’ve repeatedly seen, this can lead to mistakes – sometimes with serious consequences.”

Three resources you’ll learn about in Part I include Full Fact, Journalist’s Resource and Data Journalism Handbook. Regarding the latter, Hicken reminds journalists that with news “continually popping into readers’ inboxes, social media streams, and mobile apps, the inclusion of data in journalism has the potential to capture more reader attention and make a more memorable impact.”

(Editor’s note: The hurdle posed when journalists include data from articles posted online is the possible misinformation that must be weeded out. In some cases, alert editorial managers request copies of full reports in which data originated for fact-checking purposes.)

In Part II – Making Sense of Social Media, author Hicken says that “social media often gets blamed for inaccurate reporting and spreading misinformation. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks can be helpful, so long as they’re used responsibly.

“User-generated content can help the media learn and see news as it unfolds before they’re on the scene. However, just like any public tips that come into a newsroom, tweets and Instagram photos must be verified.”

(Editor’s note: A similar caveat was expressed by ASBPE president Mark Schlack in a recent post discussing the organization’s plan to create a B2B fact-checking handbook. “The Web can be a giant fact-checking resource,” the Tech Target VP/editorial said. “But there’s also a new complication – the vast amount of wrong, but right-seeming, information that’s available online, and the vast amplification of occasional bits of it.

(“Editors need to develop new skills in vetting what they read in social media posts, see in videos, and so on. For example, apparently last week there was a viral video on YouTube purporting to show bombing in Syria. People from Storyful, who do this for a living (and a fee), were able to detect that it was actually a four-year-old video. They’re applying fact-checking to the social media world, and that’s something we all probably want to learn more about.”)

Storyful is one of three resources for verifying social media content profiled in Part II. Also covered: Geofeedia and TinEye  In the TinEye focus, author Hicken notes that at one time, “Mashable compiled a collection of fake Hurricane Sandy Photos that had been passed around online. While some of these images were downright fabrications of ‘Photoshopped’ storm clouds over the New York skyline, others were incorrectly captioned photos from previous storms.”

In Part III: Crisis and Public Safety Reporting, readers learn about Broadcastify, and Google’s compilation of Crisis Response resources. Part IV: Verification Best Practices offers important advice to B2B editors on how to create accuracy checklists based on input from noted authorities Craig Silverman and Steve Buttry. Silverman’s well-received Verification Handbook also is discussed.

(Editor’s note: PR Newswire for Journalists offers access to breaking news, subject matter experts, story ideas , and high resolution multimedia. )

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